OBAMA DOCTRINE: Credible Military Threat to Iran

According to the authoritative Journal of Foreign Affairs, “Foreign Policy,” Pres. Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu have reached an agreement on a strategy to avert Iran’s acquiring nuclear capability. The strategy would be a joint US Israeli strike targeting Iran’s enrichment facilities. The goal would be to knockout facilities, setting the Iranian effort back many years in a way that would have no or few civilian casualties. Such an action would, at least tacitly, have the support of neighboring Muslim countries whose existence is threatened by Iran. This would include Iraq, Saudi Arabia, the Emirates, Egypt, and… most importantly… Turkey.

While the report in Foreign Affairs describes this as a very limited strike, I think Foreign Affairs is wrong.  The surgical strike they describe would be better carried out by American forces acting alone.  I think a more likely effort would entail not only the enrichment facilities but the creaky Iranian Air Force. Without its Air Force, Iran would cease to be a tangible military threat to its neighbors.

Perhaps most importantly, Iran would have an urgent need to rebuild its Air Force . To do so would require a suspension of existing UN sanctions. It is hard for me to imagine that China and India would support rebuilding Iran’s Air Force unless Iran also committed itself to abandoning the effort to become a nuclear power.

Under my scenario, civilian, or bystander injury would be minimal. More importantly, this would provide an opportunity for golf military powers, including India, China, Europe, Saudi Arabia, and the Emirates, to “guarantee” the stability although likely turmoil ridden Iran following such an attack.

The first downside would be unconventional responses by Iran and by Hezbollah. The good news is that Israel’s neighbors are now very limited in the their ability to provide any damage.  Hezbollah is likely to launch rockets and so is Hamas. That ability, however, is likely to be minimized by concurrent Israeli raids on Hezbollah and Hamas facilities.

The real downside would lie in the subsequent actions of Turkey and Egypt. It will take a great deal of Sec. Clinton’s “lead from behind” skills to allow these 2 states to express outrage while benefiting from the diminishment of Iran as a competitor to their own power.

Read more in Foreign Policy.


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